In the recent past, Finland has become known for being the happiest country in the world, which has made people wonder how they made that happen? It is believed that this might have to do majorly with their education system and with how it manifests the standards of honesty, fairness, humility, and trust.
Finland is currently the only country that has students that are not only proficient in academics but also have a high level of life satisfaction. This level of perfection would be since Finnish students(as they are called) have an appropriately healthy balance between school/academic time and personal time.
Having this balance allows the students to seize opportunities in other areas of interest such as co-curricular activities and hobbies of their own. This balance between academics and personal life not only helps them while in school but also when they graduate and move into their respective work fields.
Finland, as a country, is rich in educational and intellectual change and has over the years made small but important changes that drastically transformed their existing educational system. Today they outshine even the United States of America and are beginning to get closer to the countries which have the highest ranking when it comes to their education system, such as the Eastern Asian countries.
Finnish students are not bound by rigorous schedules, stuck in rooms cramming concepts from textbooks, they are not constantly stressed about good grades in standardized tests that the government implements rather they focus on practical understanding and experience. They have a holistic approach towards gaining an education, which motivates students to strive towards gaining self-confidence, self-worth, being hardworking and better versions of themselves while retaining integrity, honesty, and fairness rather than striving for excellence alone.
For a better understanding and more insight, here are 10 reasons as to why Finland is said to have the best educational system:
- No standardized testing:
Finland avoids standardized tests because in the presence of these tests in their educational system students only cram to pass the tests and teachers only teach to help them pass the tests, hence the purpose of learning is completely ignored.
In this country, the students’ learning is measured through qualitative methods that focus on their overall growth and not just their ability to memorize concepts through quantitative scores. Therefore, Finland has no standardized testing except for one called the National Matriculation Exam, this test is voluntary for students at the end of their upper secondary school, that is, high school.
Lastly, Finnish students are not graded in the same way as most countries, they are graded individually by a grading system set by their teachers. This is done so that students are allowed to be graded in the areas they excel in and not have to strive to get good grades for the areas a general grading system would measure.
The overall progress of students is tracked by the Ministry of Education.
- Grading for teachers is not required:
Most often teachers are blamed for the lack of progress in students and sometimes rightfully so. In Finland, the bar has been set so high for the teachers that there is no need for a grading system.
Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnis Ministry of Education said- “There is no word for accountability in Finnish, accountability is something that is left when responsibility is subtracted.” One of the biggest requirements for a teacher before entering the profession is to have a master’s degree and amongst all graduate programs, the teaching programs in Finland are the most meticulous and discerning.
If a school teacher fails to perform well it becomes the principal’s duty to do something about it individually.
- Competition is not the goal cooperation is:
Most other countries see education as nothing but a big competition but for the Fins, it isn’t about competition. In Finland, there isn’t a list of the best schools or teachers.
They focus on providing everyone with equal opportunities and opportunities each individual requires. Finland provides its citizens with an environment of cooperation and not competition.
- Remember the basics:
Most educational institutions get so involved in increasing test scores in major subjects and ranking of the institution, that they forget what a satisfied, balanced, and healthy student and environment looks like.
The Finnish made an effort to change the educational system many years ago in a way that is focused on bringing back the basics. In Finland, it was no more about controlling the grades or rank of the educational system but it was about making schools a fair, impartial, and just place for students to learn.
From the 1980s, educators in Finland focused on making the following basics the priority:
- That education will be an instrument to balance out the inequality in society.
- Every student be given free meals in school
- There would be easy access to good health care
- Citizens would be provided with psychological counseling.
- Each student would be guided individually
- Begin at a later stage:
In Finland, children begin school a few years later than the other countries. They start school when they are 7 years old and are required to do only 9 compulsory years of school which means everything past 16 years of age or ninth grade is optional.
The Finnish believe in “learning through playing”. Daycares and preschools follow the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) ways of teaching. The ECEC beliefs in letting a child be a child in their developing years and not binding them by a compulsory advanced education curriculum.
- Waking up later for less hectic days:
Finnish students start them later than most other school-going students. Early mornings, various modes of transport, and in-school and extracurricular activities exhaust the students, sometimes to a point where it begins to affect their productivity daily.
Finnish students usually begin school at around 9:00 am and finish up by 3:00 pm. Unlike most schools, they don’t have multiple short periods rather few long periods. This is done because the Finnish don’t go to school to cram multiple things in one day but to understand and comprehend each day, in a way that helps them grow holistically.
- Consistency concerning teachers:
Finnish schools do not have an auditorium filled with students with one teacher because this way it is impossible for the teachers to focus on each student.
Also, Finnish schools do not change teachers as the students move to a higher grade, they usually have the same teacher for about 5-6 years. This helps the teacher understand the students and their interests properly and it also allows the teacher and students to build a bond of trust, understanding, and comfort.
- Relaxed environment:
When one walks into a school in Finland we see that the environment is very relaxed. The students are not stressed and running about but calm and doing things at their own pace.
Students at Finnish schools have only a few classes a day, which gives them time to explore other opportunities. The students also get 15-20 minute breaks between classes that give them a breather and prepare for the next class.
This kind of environment benefits not only the students but also the teachers. In Finnish schools, there are teacher rooms set up all over the campus, which are utilized by the teachers to relax or socialize.
- Reduced homework:
It has been found that students in Finland have the least amount of homework than any other student in the world.
Finnish students do not have tutors outside the school and only spend around 30-45 mins on schoolwork at home.
- Modern study equipment and progressive thinking:
The educational institutions in Finland from kindergarten to University have the best learning equipment. The educational institutions have facilities such as Multi-Location Classrooms(MLCs) and virtual laboratories.
Finland has a facility called the ESCAPE ROOM that began in October of 2020. The purpose of the Escape Room Lab is to “gamify” the educational experience and to improve the students’ problem-solving and teamwork skills.
Finnish educational institutions use the method of flipped classroom learning, which focuses on student-centered learning rather than teacher-centered teaching. This means that the students use a variety of resources to understand concepts and ideas before class after which during class they utilize the time to ask questions, give feedback and insight.
As good as all of this sounds, it is very difficult to incorporate the Finnis form of education as it is. Multiple elements from this form of education can be implemented in other countries but that would require understanding and change of mindset.